Cloquet-Esko-Carton boys edged by EastThe first time the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team faced Duluth East this season, it was a baptism by fire. A 7-0 loss at the Heritage Center showed the distance the ‘Jacks had to travel to compete with the Greyhounds. Tuesday night at the CARC, a 4-3 loss showed just how far they have come.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The first time the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team faced Duluth East this season, it was a baptism by fire.
A 7-0 loss at the Heritage Center showed the distance the ‘Jacks had to travel to compete with the Greyhounds. Tuesday night at the CARC, a 4-3 loss showed just how far they have come.
“I thought it was very good,” ‘Jacks coach Dave Esse said. “They capitalized on a power play right away and a couple of giveaways, but we did what we had to do to keep ourselves in the game. [East is] a highly skilled team and I thought that we played positionally very well and we gave it our all.”
Trailing 2-0 into the second period, CEC got a goal from Jack McFarlane to cut the arrears in half and then a tying goal by Adam Hanson to send the game to the third period tied 2-2.
“We never quit,” Esse said. “Territorially [East] had the puck more than us but we had some good line rushes, including the one by Hanson for a goal.”
Dom Toninato scored a pair of third period goals for East before Mark Savage cut the lead to 4-3 with just over a minute to play. With the goaltender out, the ‘Jacks couldn’t find a tying goal.
“I was very proud of the guys’ effort,” Esse emphasized. “It was a vast improvement from the last time we played them.”
The East game was a carryover of some generally improved play that started with a 3-2 win over Hermantown on Feb. 4. McFarlane and Tony Wilcox gave CEC a 2-1 lead in the second period only to see Hermantown’s Cody Christopherson tie the game with a power play goal late in the second.
The game went to overtime before Savage won it with a goal 66 seconds into the extra session.
The Hawks outshot the ‘Jacks 52-28 including 21-5 in the third period, but Esse said that statistic was deceiving.
“It was gritty,” he said of the win. “We blocked shots, took lanes away and gave up very few odd-man rushes. They also had 22 shots on goal on their power plays but most of their shots hit [goaltender John] Scheuer right in the chest. He was playing his angles well and played the position very well.”
Esse was impressed with the sophomore’s play, and happy of course for the 50 saves he made in the game.
“[Scheuer] is getting more relaxed with the feel of the high school game,” the coach said. “He has to be aware of other players around him and not just the puck. He is growing up and becoming the kind of goaltender we thought he might be.”
The ‘Jacks came up big again two nights later, traveling to Anoka and beating the Tornadoes 5-3.
“We played a bit sporadic, not a full 51-minute game,” Esse said. “But we never panicked and I was really proud of us at the end. We hung tight.”
Trailing 2-1 after the first period despite Paul Ryan’s goal just 27 seconds into the contest, CEC tied the game at two in the last half minute of the second period, again through Ryan. McFarlane gave the ‘Jacks the lead back at the 5:36 mark of the third period and after Conner Iverson’s power play goal three minutes later, CEC pulled away.
Connor Tollerud picked up the eventual game winning goal at 13:07 and Ben Michaud hit an empty net with 16 seconds left to cement the win.
The teams combined for 89 shots on goal in the game, with Scheuer making 39 saves as the ‘Jacks outshot Anoka 47-42.
“The players are starting to trust the system and are doing a better job of playing with the guys they are next to in the locker room,” Esse said. “We have good senior leadership and players are believing in their surroundings.”